Fire extinguishers are portable devices designed to help put out the types of fires you might encounter at home before they get out of control.
on September 23 2013
From electrical fires in workshops to grease fires in the kitchen, it is vital that you fight a fire with the right kind of fire extinguisher. Attempting to put out a fire with the wrong type of extinguisher can quickly make a fire more dangerous.
To maximize home safety, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends a fire extinguisher on every level of your home, and also in garages, kitchens and basements, and near exits. A fire extinguisher is most effective when the fire you are fighting is small and self-contained, when there is a clear exit behind you and when the extinguisher is used to create an exit path.
This buying guide will explain the different classes of fire extinguishing agents and the types of fires each is designed to fight so you can feel confident you’re getting the right fire extinguishers to protect your home and family.
Factors to Consider
• Expert Recommendations
– Primary, secondary extinguishers
• Classes of Firefighting Agents
– Class A, Class B, Class C
• Safety tips
– Choose the right extinguisher, maintenance, PASS
Fire extinguishers are Underwriters Laboratories® (UL) classed and rated based on the type and amount of firefighting agent inside and the types of fires the agent can put out. Firefighting agents are classed as A, B or C, and all fire extinguishers are available with some combination of the three agents.
The numerical ratings on extinguishers refer not to the fire extinguisher’s size, but to its firefighting capability. A larger number indicates more firefighting capability for its class.
Guided by these ratings, the NFPA recommends primary and secondary fire extinguishers for different areas in your home.
Classes of Firefighting Agents
In addition to knowing which specific extinguishers the experts recommend, it is a good idea to be familiar with class ratings. Fire extinguisher labels contain the information you need about class ratings, including icons identifying the types of fire the extinguisher will extinguish. Class A fire extinguishing agents
are rated for fires involving ordinary household items such as wood, cloth, paper, rubber and plastics. The numerical rating on Class A extinguishers represents the extinguisher’s capacity in terms of an equivalent volume of water. For example, a 1-A extinguisher has the equivalent firefighting power of 1.25 gallons of water. A 4-A extinguisher has four times the power of a 1-A extinguisher, or the equivalent of 5 gallons of water. Class B fire extinguishing agents
are rated for fires involving flammable liquids such as kitchen grease, gasoline, oil, solvents and oil-based paint. Class B extinguishers are numerically rated based on the number of square feet of fire the material can put out. For example, a 10-B rating means the extinguisher can cover 10 square feet of fire.
Class C fire extinguishing agents
are rated for fires involving energized electrical equipment, such as wiring, circuit breakers, machinery, electronics and appliances. Class C extinguishers don’t have a numerical rating.
Safety Tips • Choose a fire extinguisher
with an easy-to-read pressure gauge and clear instructions. Be sure you
understand how your extinguisher works before you have a fire.
• Choose a fire extinguisher
that has been approved by one of the testing agencies, such as UL.
• When choosing a fire extinguisher for a business,
keep in mind that most U.S. building codes require at
least a UL rated 2-A:10-B:C fire extinguisher.
• Bigger is better when choosing a fire extinguisher
, but choose a model that you can handle easily in a
• Maintain your fire extinguisher
to ensure its continued ability to function. Check the gauge monthly to
ensure the extinguisher is pressurized. Replace it if the gauge reads “empty,” if it is 12+ years old or if you
have used it.
• Store your extinguisher
in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place, but be sure it is close at hand and ready in case of an emergency.
is the word to remember when you need to use your extinguisher
stands for pull the pin.
stands for aim the nozzle away from you and toward the base of the fire.
stands for squeeze the lever slowly.
stands for sweep the nozzle from side to side, while moving carefully toward the fire.